Small boards and Bernie: Madoff scandal an example of why bigger is better

A recent report from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy found that foundations that lost all of their assets to Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme shared one trait in particular — small, homogenous boards of directors — according to a Chronicle of Philanthropy article.

The report, which looked at the approximately 150 organizations that fell victim to the scheme, found that the 105 organizations that were hit hardest had a median board size of three people. Many of the organizations with small boards were also made up of family members, making it more likely that board decisions were “based on trust or reputation” rather than reason and due diligence. According to the National Committee, boards should have at least five members and they should be diverse.JVA Consulting advocates for larger, diverse boards.

“One of the things JVA preaches in our board development trainings is that a larger board offers more connections and inroads into the community,” JVA President Janine Vanderburg said. She also said that a larger board offers “shared leadership and access to a variety of networks.”

To learn more about how you can develop your board to include a larger, more diverse membership, attend JVA’s upcoming Transforming Your Board workshop. During the training, you’ll learn the following: helping your board understand its roles and responsibilities; recruiting the best possible board members for your nonprofit (not all nonprofits need or want the same things); engaging board members so they fully use their talents to advance your mission; making board meetings fun and rewarding; dealing with problem board members; and using five strategic tools to support your board development. Details are below, and click on the link for more information and to register.

Transforming Your Board
Date: Tuesday, July 28
Time: 7:30–9 a.m.
Location: JVA
Cost: $29


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